Fiction/Nonfiction Pairings: The Danish Resistance

8 Jul

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I have long been interested in the occupation of Denmark during World War 2. It mostly stems from my year on the island of Langeland between grades 12 & 13. Although it was 1982-82, memories of the war were still vivid. In fact, on one of my favorite bike rides, i would frequently stop at the cemetery in Magleby, hallway between the town I lived in, Trygglev and Bagenkop, the southernmost town on Langeland. Six British and Canadian airmen are buried in this cemetery, making World War 2 very real for me in a way it hadn’t been before, at home.

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So it shouldn’t be surprising that I was excited that Phillip Hoose’s latest nonfiction book, The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Andersen and the Churchill Club caught my attention. This is the nonfiction story told in the 1995 Batchelder winner, The Boys from St. Petri by Bjarne B. Reuter. The Batchelder award is awarded to an American publisher for a children’s book considered to be the most outstanding of those books originally published in a foreign language in a foreign country, and subsequently translated into English and published in the United States.

Publisher’s Summary of The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Andersen and the Churchill Club : The true story of a group of boy resistance fighters in Denmark after the Nazi invasion.

At the outset of World War II, Denmark did not resist German occupation. Deeply ashamed of his nation’s leaders, fifteen-year-old Knud Pedersen resolved with his brother and a handful of schoolmates to take action against the Nazis if the adults would not. Naming their secret club after the fiery British leader, the young patriots in the Churchill Club committed countless acts of sabotage, infuriating the Germans, who eventually had the boys tracked down and arrested. But their efforts were not in vain: the boys’ exploits and eventual imprisonment helped spark a full-blown Danish resistance. Interweaving his own narrative with the recollections of Knud himself, here is Phillip Hoose’s inspiring story of these young war heroes.

By airing these two books, students can get information about this period of history along with some insight into the boys’ belief in their cause and their fear of the consequences they face.

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